The FIPLV Nordic-Baltic Region (NBR) Conference 2018 “Teaching and Learning Languages in the 21st Century: Linguistic, Educational and Cultural Aspects”

06-14-2018 at 4:43 PM

On 7-8 June 2018 the international conference “Teaching and Learning Languages in the 21st Century: Linguistic, Educational and Cultural Aspects” organized jointly by the Institute of Foreign Languages of the Faculty of Philology (Vilnius University), Language Teachers‘ Association of Lithuania (LKPA) and the FIPLV Nordic-Baltic Region (NBR) took place in Vilnius. The event gathered about 150 participants from more than 20 countries. The aims of the conference were to bring language policymakers, teaching professionals and researchers together for discussions about the mission of teaching in the 21st century, the meaning of teaching quality, efficiency and effectiveness, as well as analyse the aims, needs and perspectives of teaching /learning languages in multicultural environment that could consequently enhance the promotion of democratic citizenship, social cohesion, and intercultural dialogue. The international scientific event was a venue to exchange information and knowledge, share best practices and experiences across national boundaries on teacher training and the enhancement of the development of teachers’ competences that would serve to acquire a better understanding of teaching the New Generation of students. The discussion focused not only about the international practice but also about Lithuania where Lithuanian researchers had opportunities to introduce themselves, share best practices and establish new connections with practitioners and scientists in the field from other countries.

The events of the first conference day took place at the premises of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. The participants were welcomed by the Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania Mrs. Jurgita Petrauskienė who awarded certificates of appreciation in recognition of the most significant work for the most active language educators and linguists in Lithuania. The welcome speeches were given by the Adviser to the Prime Minister at Office of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania Ms. Unė Kaunaitė and Prof. Dr. Meilutė Ramonienė, the Dean and Chairwoman of the Board of the Faculty of Philology, Vilnius University. The conference was also opened by Sigurborg Jónsdóttir, who is the current FIPLV Nordic-Baltic Region President (Iceland), and Prof. Dr. Roma Kriaučiūnienė, who is both the Director of the Institute of Foreign Languages of the Faculty of Philology (Vilnius University) and the current President of Language Teachers’ Association of Lithuania.

During the opening session, the most active members of Language Teachers’ Association of Lithuania were awarded. The certificates of appreciation were presented to Dr. Vilma Bijeikeinė, the Director of the Institute of Foreign Languages of Vytautas Magnus University, Audronė Auškelienė, the Director of the Public Service Language Centre, Evelina Jaleniauskienė, the lecturer of English from Kaunas University of Technology, and Halina Klupšienė, the lecturer of English of the Centre of Foreign Languages at Vilnius University of Applied Sciences. Secretary-General of the International Federation of Language Teachers’ Associations (FIPLV) Prof. Dr. Terry Lamb presented an important certificate of appreciation to Eglė Šleniotiene, the Honorary President of Language Teachers’ Association of Lithuania, in recognition of her continuous and active dissemination of FIPLV activities both in Lithuania and across Europe.

The organized international conference had a long list of experts as leading speakers who came from the United Kingdom, Germany, Turkey, Latvia and Lithuania. Their plenary speeches encouraged discussions on the mission and quality of foreign language teaching/learning in the 21st century as well as about the necessity of intercultural dialogue nowadays. For instance, Prof. Dr. Terry Lamb from Westminster University, who is a prominent policymaker not only in the UK but also all over the world, shared various practices contributing to the promotion of foreign language learning. The researcher Dr. Steve Mann from Warwick University (United Kingdom) shared a range of video-based practices for language teaching and teacher education. Prof. Dr. Georg Lind (University of Konstanz, Germany) introduced his original theory of moral competence development as well as shed light on the ways of the development of moral competence in the process of language teaching by presenting Konstanz Moral Dilemma Discussion (KMDD) method. Prof. Dr. Thomas H. Bak from Edinburgh University (United Kingdom) presented the latest findings of neuroscience research on the effects of language learning on cognition and brain, which was recently introduced in the European Commission. A considerable attention was also given to the Lithuanian language considering its history, culture and language policy in Lithuania. Prof. Dr. Bonifacas Stundžia gave an informative speech on these aspects. However, this is just a small part of plenary speakers’ insights.

The other events of the conference took place at the Faculty of Philology of Vilnius University. They included a number of workshops and presentations as well as proceeding discussions on diverse aspects concerning the topics of the conference. The presentations were delivered and workshops organized by the attendees from the United Kingdom, Germany, Turkey, Spain, Iceland, Australia, the United States of America, Sultanate of Oman, Greece, Brazil, Finland, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia and, of course, by a great number of participants from Lithuania.

All presentations were divided into the following main sections: Language Teacher Training and Development of Teachers’ Competences, Language Learning and Teaching New Generation Students, Literary and Linguistic Research as well as Multilingualism and Intercultural Communication. Only a small number of interesting topics could be mentioned here. For example, Dr. Irina Lebid ran the workshop entitled “Bringing Real England into the Classroom”, where a number of practical ideas helping to relate the development of cultural awareness with language learning were introduced. The workshop “Storytelling as a Means to Develop Students’ Emotional and Social Intelligence” was organized by Dr. Sonia Carmona Tapia from Spain. It caught attention of many attendees as being useful for acquiring practical ideas on how language learning could be coupled with the development of this kind of intelligence. The Estonian attendee Evelin Muuripeal delivered the workshop “Mobile Devices as Partners in Language Teaching” where she showed how such devices could be employed for learning a foreign language in practice. During the session of literary and linguistic research, Prof. Dr. Vilmantė Liubinienė (Kaunas University of Technology) gave the presentation on the advantages and drawbacks of semantic multimodal approach for the analysis of media narratives. Dr. Dorisa Costello (Vilnius University) focused on the topic of sexual euphemisms in the novels by Nora Roberts. Dr. Ovidiu Ivancu (Romania) talked on the issue of inadequacy as a symptom of the crisis of modernity. Nikolay Nikolov (Bulgaria) introduced the T.I.M.E. (Teenodrama Interactive Method in English) model which, according to the presenter, could increase students’ motivation for learning foreign languages and help them become more successful in communication using a foreign language. The lecturers Gintarė Gelunaitė-Malinauskienė and Rima Sabaliauskienė (Vytautas Magnus University) delivered a presentation “Advertisements as reflections of culture in the classes of foreign languages”. During it, they shared ideas on how short advertisements could be used for learning German and Spanish and in this way increasing cultural awareness of the international students coming to Lithuania. During her presentation “Lexicilogy and Multilingualism”, Alla Anisimova (Ukraine) focused on the aspects of multilingualism as the part of the lexicology course. In addition, her presentation included the discussion on the ever increasing popularity of CLIL (Content Language Integrated Learning) and the advantages of its application.

To conclude, this event was important both on national and international scales. All attendees had opportunities to find out about diverse linguistic, educational and cultural aspects in the area of foreign language teaching/ learning. By having the conference that was attended by such a big number of attendees from so many countries, it can be concluded that such face-to-face discussions are extremely important for scientists and practitioners from both Lithuania and abroad, who seek to apply the most advanced research and practical ideas in the area of foreign language teaching/learning thus shaping the next stage of impact agenda.